Find balance through inner renewal

By | July 19, 2012

There are different varieties of shepherds. Some are good, some bad; some are competent, some incompetent; some are holy, some are sinful.

Jeremiah the prophet tells of one variety of shepherd, the kind that misleads and scatters the sheep. He has for them a severe warning and a promise of punishment. In speaking for the Lord, Jeremiah goes on to tell of caring shepherds who take away the fear and trembling of the sheep. These shepherds will bring justice and security to the people.

The distinction between caring and uncaring shepherds might be too neat and clear. Do not all leaders—parents, teachers, politicians, ministers — struggle with grace and sin? At times they are truly dedicated to the good of others; at other times, they have to deal with self-interest and their own ambition. Motives are mixed. Life is not terribly neat and clear; it is messy.

Jesus, trying to help the apostles achieve some balance in their hectic lives, told them to find some solitude in a deserted place, come face to face with people in great need. Jesus saw the crowds as being without guides and leaders. This moved him to pity, then to action. He himself, the good shepherd, taught them many things.

Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. Work and rest, reaching out and reaching in, action and contemplation — these are the polarities seeking some resolution or at least balance. To live on one side of the ledger can endanger one’s physical, psychological and even spiritual health. Yet, when the rubber hits the road, it is the need of our neighbor that has priority. This principle, however, cannot exempt any leader form taking some personal time for inner renewal.

And if there is any one person who exemplifies variety, it is St. Paul. His life is a witness to graced energies that reached out in many, many directions. His preaching, writing, suffering and traveling activities reveal a person committed to God’s Kingdom and the person of Jesus. In today’s passage from Ephesians it is the theme of peace that haunts St. Paul. For him, Jesus has made possible right relationships that are the foundations of peace.

Questions for reflection

1. What variety of gifts has God endowed you with?

2. What were some of the caring/uncaring moments of your ministry?

3. How do we find unity in variety?

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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